Why I Support Amendment 1, The Charter School Amendment

October 31, 2012 9:00 am

by Buzz Brockway · 75 comments

Public education in Georgia has had a rough time the last couple of years. Clayton County Schools are on the verge of losing their accreditation for the second time in four years. DeKalb County and Atlanta City schools have been warned by the accrediting agency SACS to shape up their operations. Governor Deal recently removed the entire school board of a South Georgia County. Cheating scandals in Atlanta City Schools and Doughtery County gained worldwide attention and tarnished Georgia’s image. Closer to home, barely two-thirds of our students, even students in my home county of Gwinnett, manage to graduate high school in four years. Thousands of other students walking out of our high schools with diplomas must take remedial classes when they get to college because they aren’t ready for college level work. Our best students can compete with the best students from anywhere in the world but far too many are not receiving the education they need.

The idea of charter schools has been around since the late 1980′s. In 1993, Georgia passed it’s first charter school bill, allowing local school districts to convert existing schools into charter schools if they so desired. In 1998 the law was expanded to allow local school districts to create new charter schools within their districts. Sadly, few districts took advantage of these laws.

As of 2008, there were only 71 charter schools in Georgia. The Legislature formed a study committee to look at how other States authorized charter schools and proposed that a State level authorizing entity be formed. 32 other States allow other entities to authorize charter schools, many at the State level. Groups as diverse as the National Association of Educators, the National PTA, and Americans For Prosperity support the concept of alternate authorizing entities for charter schools.

The Legislature took up this idea and in 2008 passed House Bill 881, creating the Georgia Charter Schools Commission with the authority to hear appeals from charter applicants who had been rejected by their local school system. During the three years it operated, the Georgia Charter Schools Commission heard 56 appeals and approved only 16. During that same period, local school boards approved over a hundred charter applications, suggesting the law was doing what it was intended to do: encourage local school boards to approve good quality charter school applications.

Based on a lawsuit filed by Gwinnett County Schools, the State Supreme Court ruled HB881 unconstitutional. In response to the Supreme Court ruling the Legislature proposed House Resolution 1162 which seeks to amend the State Constitution to reaffirm the State’s proper Constitutional role in education. Article VIII of the Georgia Constitution says “The provision of an adequate public education for the citizens shall be a primary obligation of the State of Georgia.” Since education is a primary obligation of the State, we as citizens of this State can choose how we want to fulfill that obligation and make changes if what we are doing isn’t working. It is not only our right to make changes if our present system isn’t working, it’s our responsibility.

Voting Yes on Amendment 1 will recreate the Georgia Charter School Commission and bring us back to the system we had from 2008 – 2011 where charter applicants were assured of fair treatment by local school boards by allowing for an appeal should their application be rejected by a local school board.

Ultimately this isn’t about school budgets, local control, or even how we adults feel. It’s about the students and are we doing all we can to give them the best educational opportunities. Charter schools won’t “fix” all our problems in Georgia, but they will provide another option for parents and students who feel they need one.

Some of the posts I’ve written about Amendment 1 at Peach Pundit:
Today’s Charter Amendment Opposition Misinformation: They’re Trying To Create A Third Authorizer!
Today’s Charter Amendment Opponent Misinformation: “Vote No To State Controlled Schools”
Today’s Charter Amendment Opponent Misinformation: No, We’re Not Using Taxpayer Funds To Oppose The Amendment, Why Would You Think That?
Today’s Charter Amendment Opponent Misinformation: The State Can Already Create New Charter Schools So Vote No!
Taxpayers Not Left Holding The Bag When Charter Schools Close
Gwinnett Chamber Moves To Neutral, PTA Revises Position In Charter Debate
As The School Year Begins A Lesson Is Needed On The Difference Between An Apple And An Orange
More On The Flawed Logic Of Banning State Charter Schools

jakey October 31, 2012 at 10:44 am

Have you ever thought that maybe, just maybe, if you fully funded regular education they might do better. You all keep talking about how public education is a “broken system,” but it has never been fully funded. What is the QBE funding at now, 43-47%? Why not try to get that to 100%, see if it works, and then if it fails look at alternatives. If the system is broken it is because the legislature broke it for not keeping its promises.

Buzz Brockway October 31, 2012 at 8:56 pm

According to the Southern Regional Education Board, Georgia has the highest average teacher salaries among 14 southeastern states. On the other end of the spectrum, Georgia has the lowest graduation rate among the same states.

As to the funding formula, Georgia taxpayers fund on average 48% of K-12 operations costs; school systems fund 41%; and the feds fund 11%. Systems’ share hasn’t changed in 10 years.

Overall, Georgia does a pretty good job in funding K-12 as compared to other states. But Georgia doesn’t do a good job in getting results.

What needs to change? Maybe it’s time to empower parents in public education. With charter schools.

Calypso October 31, 2012 at 9:17 pm

Buzz, your responses are lacking in substance and believability. You obfuscate your answers to some questions and avoid answering other questions at all. The more you post, the worse you make your case for passage of this amendment.

This is most obvious regarding Angela Palm’s comments as well as Trey’s.

This amendment is not a viable answer to the problems the traditional public schools are experiencing. If, as you state “it’s time to empower parents in public education. With charter schools.”, what happens to the 99.9% of students not going to charter schools? Your silence on their needs is deafening.

Vote NO on the charter amendment.

Buzz Brockway October 31, 2012 at 10:22 pm

I’ve answered dozens and dozens of questions asked by you and many others on this subject. To try to respond to every single comment and question about the charter amendment is not something I have the time nor the inclination to do.

Never have I claimed this is the answer to every challenge our schools face. I have never said this is the end of school reform in Georgia, nor is it the only thing the Legislature has done. You clearly think that, which is your right to think, but you couldn’t be more wrong.

bowersville October 31, 2012 at 9:19 pm

The old school model — based on a one-size-fits-all factory approach to education — no longer applies in a 21st century economy. Since 2004, North Carolina New Schools has joined with the State Board of Education, the N.C. Department of Public Instruction, the N.C. Community College System, the University of North Carolina and local school districts to develop and support innovative secondary schools that share a fundamental goal: Engage all students with powerful approaches to teaching and learning and graduate all students ready for college, careers and life.

http://ncnewschools.org/schools/

Now. How did they North Carolina get there?

The North Carolina General Assembly has enacted Session Law 2011-145 (HB 200), the Appropriations Act of 2011. Section 7.1A, titled “Career and College Promise,” outlines new legislation pertaining to dual enrollment of high school students.

What does this North Carolina legislation accomplish?

The legislation directs the State Board of Education and the NCCCS to establish “structured opportunities for qualified high school students (juniors and seniors only) to dually enroll in community college courses that provide pathways that lead to a certificate, diploma, or degree as well as provide entry-level job skills.

http://www.cpcc.edu/hsprograms

And what is the result?

Nearly 30,000 students statewide now attend a school partnering with North Carolina New Schools — but one size doesn’t fit all. Different models are tailored to different needs.

And the dropout rate in North Carolina?

School Data

NC High School Dropout Rates.

North Carolina New Schools Early College High Schools… 0.7%

All North Carolina High Schools…4.27%

http://ncnewschools.org/schools/

We can do better than another avenue for Charter Schools. Not because it is easy but because we are Georgia and education reform is the right thing to do.

Calypso October 31, 2012 at 9:35 pm

Bravo. Unfortunately the wisdom shown in NC, as spelled out in your post, will be lost on the myopic and shallow legislators we currently have under the gold dome. They are looking for a politically expedient answer, one that tosses some of the proverbial red meat to the bulk of their constituency and then move on to the next hot-button social issue.

These guys don’t have the brains or the balls to do the right thing.

John Konop October 31, 2012 at 9:55 pm

I have a general rule that works well if Calypso, KD and Bowersville ( some of the smartest commenters) agree, I am with them! A big no on until our legislators get it right!

Calypso November 1, 2012 at 6:20 am

Thank you for the compliment, John.

Buzz Brockway October 31, 2012 at 10:11 pm

Georgia has a dual enrollment program which the State pays for. We also recently passed a career pathways bill to allow students to better prepare for college or other post-secondary education.

We hope charter schools will be part of education reform here in Georgia.

John Konop October 31, 2012 at 10:23 pm

Buzz,

The problem with duel enrollment is it is not user friendly for vocational kids via the college prep requirements and or access to programs…….. Charter schools does not fix the problem……….

I have given you guys the solution for years……. Why not let students fill the requirements based on the degree needs over college prep requirements? Why not combine resources with colleges and vocational schools rather than create more overhead?

DeKalb Inside Out November 1, 2012 at 10:23 am

Dual enrollment in college courses. I’ve always wondered why high school seniors couldn’t take college courses. I love it … let’s do it.

Seems like State Charters and Dual enrollment, while neither one fixing education in Georgia, can both be implemented to improve education for at least some people.

Angela Palm October 31, 2012 at 10:37 pm

The systems’ share has changed over the ten years. In FY 2001, locals provided 38%, the state 57%, and the Feds 5%. In FY 2011, the percentages are as you noted 41/48/11. The federal rate was unusually high in 2010 and 2011 due to the ARRA and Edujobs money. In 2010, the local districts provided 43% of the funding as did the state.

For those who prefer to compare per student (or in education funding speak per FTE) funding, here’s the change. In 2001, locals provided $2592, the state $3813, and the Feds $333. In 2011, it was $3686/$4292/$1024. Over this period we had implementation of the A+ Education Reform Act, No Child Left Behind, new GPS curriculum, enrollment growth, pay raises, rising transportation costs, rising healthcare costs, etc. State reductions to its share of the basic costs according to its own formula began in 2003.

I don’t think you will find anyone who thinks our students are where they need to be, but we are making progress. The class of 2012 was the first group of students who experienced many of the reforms put in place, and results are promising that we are on the right track. We have to keep moving forward no doubt about it.

girl with a gun November 1, 2012 at 7:17 am

You can not force parents to be involved. Those who are “empowered” or involved, are the ones who’s child is doing well and they are the one’s most likely to move when another option comes open. So, what does that leave us with? Probably with schools that have no active parents.
Charters have a limit to the number of children they can educate and if you take all the involved parents out of the traditional schools, those schools will do worse. I do see how this is a good thing. Plus, as you can see in Gainesville City Schools, if you put ALL the children in a Charter school nothing changes.
I am curious, are any of the current charters high schools? Or are the only choices in high school, alternative schools?

Calypso November 1, 2012 at 7:25 am

“I do see how this is a good thing.”

Do you not mean, “I don’t see how this is a good thing.”

If so, I agree with your post, it reinforces a point I’ve been trying to make all along. Thanks for reiterating.

girl with a gun November 1, 2012 at 7:40 am

Yes, “I don’t see how this is a good thing”.
I should have read it before posting. :)

BRING BACK THE EDIT OPTION!

DeKalb Inside Out October 31, 2012 at 10:59 am

Jakey
If you look at the History of Funding Education In Georgia you’ll see that school districts are getting as much money as they ever have. You are correct that the state doesn’t fully fund QBE, but the counties are making up for that shortfall.

That history is adjusted for inflation. We have been feeding school districts more and more money every year for the last 16 years. I’m guessing giving traditional public schools more money isn’t the answer.

Harry October 31, 2012 at 11:13 am

Insanity: doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.
Albert Einstein

cheapseats October 31, 2012 at 12:10 pm

I agree with Harry 100% and that’s why I’m not trusting anybody at the state government level any more. I think I’m going to quit reading amendments for future ballots and just vote “No” on everything they propose. I wish I could just vote “No” on contested races.

jakey October 31, 2012 at 1:55 pm

I’m not 100% sure of your numbers, but I will accept them as true because I have no reason to think you are lying.

With that said, if QBE was fully funded, what makes you think that the school boards would just cut their funds they are using for the schools now. For instance, if the school is suppose to get $10 from the state based on QBE, but are only getting $5, under you logic the local school board is then giving $5 to make up for the shortfall: Total $10

Why not get the full $10 from the state, and then add the $5 from the local government: Total $15

Or, even fully fund QBE, cut property taxes some, and have the school board chip in $3 for a Total: $13 and lower property taxes.

It seems simple enough really. You can’t half-fund a system then complain it doesn’t work. It is like opening a window and then complaining that your heater isn’t keeping your house warm. The charter school idea is to add another heater to the house – but the problem will still remain until you close the damn window.

DeKalb Inside Out October 31, 2012 at 2:12 pm

Jakey,
The school districts have been getting more and more money every year for the last 16 years. I can’t believe that if QBE was fully funded and the school districts got more money again that anything would change. They are already getting more money than they ever have.

Why do you say the system is half-funded? The school districts are getting their money and it spends the same whether it comes from the county or the state.

State Chartered Schools are independent, so they are not under the control of the local school district. Using your analogy, we are moving to another house with better windows. If that new house doesn’t have better windows, then it fails and closes.

Trey A. October 31, 2012 at 1:32 pm

Buzz, I keep reading your posts in support of Amendment 1. I follow your argument in the above post until you get to the paragraph that begins with “Voting Yes on amendment 1…”

Here’s where it remains confusing to me (and partially why I still intend to vote NO unless you or somebody else can clear this up). Our GOP State School Superintendent is against this ballot measure. He insists that an appeals process is already in place for charter applicants that are unjustly denied valid applications by local school boards. While John Barge’s advocacy against the amendment has come down from the State Department of Education website, the appeals process he describes is still up and functioning in practice:

http://www.doe.k12.ga.us/External-Affairs-and-Policy/Charter-Schools/Pages/Frequently-Asked-Questions-for-New-Petitioners.aspx

He claims that the court decision that struck down HB881 does not effect this review process. So is Barge lying? Is he misinformed? Is he correct, but you (and others) feel the HB881 ruling will expose the state to future court challenges of this petition process? If the answer to the first two questions is “no” and the third “yes” (which is how I understand it presently), where are the lawsuits? Is it wise to change the constitution to curb the potential impact of lawsuits that have not or may not ever be filed? And how does this constitutional change to prevent future legal challenges directly improve student achievement and the ability of parents to hold those running their children’s’ schools accountable? And finally, how does changing the state constitution to prevent potential lawsuits go hand in hand with basic conservative principles of governance?

I keep asking these questions and I am not getting answers.

Buzz Brockway October 31, 2012 at 1:49 pm

Trey,

I like Dr. Barge. I think he’s doing a good job as Superintendent but obviously I disagree with him on this amendment. I don’t want to make this personal against him but I find the argument put forward by opponents that the State BoE can approve charter schools to be utterly disingenuous. You can’t sue saying “the State can’t do that” then turn around and say “the State could always do that” and maintain credibility.

Why would opponents sue now? It undermines their argument that they love charter schools but just don’t like this amendment. Rest assured, they will indeed sue after the election and if this amendment fails the State BoE will be instructed to stop declaring charter schools to be “State special charter schools.” The 15 or so State special charter schools that exist now will be shut down and the school systems that loath charter schools can go back to denying them with the same impunity they did before HB881 passed.

Vote for this however you want folks. Obviously I support it and hope you vote for it, but to vote no because you think the State can already approve charter schools is to allow yourself to be deceived.

Trey A. October 31, 2012 at 1:56 pm

I appreciate your response, Buzz. I’m still having trouble with 4, 5 & 6 below. Why pre-empt a potential legal challenge with a constitutional amendment? IF the legal challenge does come AND it goes the way you suspect it will, a ballot measure like this becomes a no-brainer. I would vote yes. So why do it now? Why not after the court ruling (if it ever comes)?

Angela Palm October 31, 2012 at 6:19 pm

I’m sorry some find quoting state law to be misinformation. 20-2-2064.1(c) says that if a start-up charter petition is denied by a local board, they may apply to the state board. The statute was passed under Barnes and we have had them since 2001. We continued to have them during the time the Commission operated.

The majority opinion of the Supreme Court decision said explicitly that they were not ruling on state chartered special schools, only on the Charter Schools Commission Act, the question before them. The state board has acted on state charter petitions numerous times since the May 2011 decision on the Commission. If all the state leadership felt it was unconstitutional for them to do so in light of that decision, wouldn’t someone have advised the state board not to do so?

Full disclosure: I work for the Georgia School Boards Association

Buzz Brockway October 31, 2012 at 10:26 pm

The problem comes with the definition of a special school. The folks who filed the lawsuit believe special schools refer to schools for special needs students. The same people who now say the State can create any charter school it wants sued to prevent the State from doing just that, arguing for the definite of special schools I mentioned above.

Calypso October 31, 2012 at 1:59 pm

Your answer to Trey’s question is as clear as mud.

Buzz, please quite simply answer, “Is it true that, “…that an appeals process is already in place for charter applicants that are unjustly denied valid applications by local school boards…and that the court decision that struck down HB881 does not effect this review process.”?

Buzz Brockway October 31, 2012 at 2:52 pm

The State BoE is declaring the charter schools which were approved by the former Charter School Commission to be “State special charter schools” and as soon as that’s challenged in court they will be instructed to stop.

Trey A. October 31, 2012 at 1:50 pm

To give you an idea of how I see the answers to these questions presently (and why I intend to vote NO unless someone can show me why my answers are wrong).

1. Is Barge lying about the active state appeals process? NO.

2. Do some believe that the HB881 ruling by the state supreme court will expose the state to future court challenges of the State Dept. of Education charter school petition appeals process? YES.

3. Where are the lawsuits? I don’t know.

4. Is it wise to change the constitution to curb the potential impact of lawsuits that have not or may not ever be filed? In the vast majority of cases, NO.

5. How will this constitutional change directly improve student achievement and the ability of parents to hold those running their children’s’ schools accountable? I don’t know, but I’m skeptical.

6. How does changing the state constitution to prevent potential lawsuits go hand in hand with basic conservative principles of governance? IT SIMPLY DOES NOT.

Buzz Brockway October 31, 2012 at 1:55 pm

We didn’t pass HR1162 to avoid future lawsuits. You are correct, folks who want to will file lawsuits will. We passed HR1162 to reaffirm the State’s role in education since Gwinnett v Cox muddied the waters on that issue, and to make clear we have the authority to create the Georgia Charter Schools Commission.

Calypso October 31, 2012 at 1:55 pm

7. How does changing the state constitution help the kids in traditional public schools? It doesn’t.

DeKalb Inside Out October 31, 2012 at 2:18 pm

Calypso,
Connecting those dots is easy once we agree that all state charters across the state will close if this amendment is voted down. So, the real question is “What is the fate of state chartered schools if this amendment does not pass?”

Calypso October 31, 2012 at 2:28 pm

That may be your real question, but it isn’t mine. My question remains as is. As does my answer.

And no one has responded to my quest for clarification of Trey’s issues regarding the appeals process currently in place.

DeKalb Inside Out October 31, 2012 at 2:56 pm

Well … if this amendment fails all state chartered schools will eventually be closed. All those parents that decided the state chartered school was a better education, won’t be getting that better education.

Calypso,
Let me ask you a question…

Please explain how we’re supposed to believe the same local school districts that sued to overturn the original state commission and are actively opposing this amendment would sit idly by while the state school board continues to wield virtually the same power.

Calypso October 31, 2012 at 3:14 pm

“Well … if this amendment fails all state chartered schools will eventually be closed.”

That would be because the State Supreme Court found their establishment to be unconstitutional, correct? The constitution was worded the way it was for a reason.

“…while the state school board continues to wield virtually the same power.”

You, yourself just admitted the state school board already has ‘virtually the same power’ as you want for this newly-to-be-established state commission.

And no proponent is addressing what the passage of the constitutional amendment will do to help the students in traditional public schools. It will do nothing to help them. If it passes, it will be the last time in the forseeable future the legislature does anything regarding the betterment of K-12 education in this state. It will be their ‘token’ to hundreds of thousands of students and their parents in Georgia.

I’m a fiscal conservative, but I get the distinct impression the legislature could tell public schools to go to hell tomorrow and the majority of them wouldn’t lose any sleep over it.

DeKalb Inside Out October 31, 2012 at 4:10 pm

Calypso
The constitution is demonstrably not clear. the state’s authority to create schools came down to a 3-4 vote.

Amendment 1 doesn’t say anything about a state commission. It just clears up the authority the state has to create schools. If you have a problem with them amendment, please take that up with House Bill 797. I don’t see any reason to throw the baby out with the bath water.

How the constitutional amendment will do to help parents and children? – Without state chartered schools many parents will not have the choices they have now. If state chartered schools do not provide a superior education, then they will fail and close. By forcing these closures, you are taking away a superior education.

How the constitutional amendment help the children left in traditional Schools?
* All local money stays with the school district. For every child that goes to a charter school, the traditional school district has more money per child.
* State chartered schools will motivate the traditional schools to be innovative and more responsive to their local communities.

The Last Democrat in Georgia October 31, 2012 at 4:15 pm

When the State Legislature tells someone to go hell, it’s usually because they need the company.

DeKalb Inside Out October 31, 2012 at 2:00 pm

Trey,
Georgia PTA Lobbyist Sally Fitzgerald stated at a community forum that there WILL be a lawsuit.
In his dissent of the 2011 judgement, Nahmias warns us of the inability of the State Board to commission charters under the 2011 ruling ruling should it be contested.

This amendment only gives the state permission to commission charters and not to run them. This is taking control and power away from the larger county school government and giving it to the local community. A board made up of the community is charged with running a state chartered school.

Trey A. October 31, 2012 at 3:22 pm

Dekalb, I’m pretty sure the answer to this question went back and forth in another thread:

“Please explain how we’re supposed to believe the same local school districts that sued to overturn the original state commission and are actively opposing this amendment would sit idly by while the state school board continues to wield virtually the same power.”

But, I’ll answer it again here: You don’t have to believe that charter opponents are going to cease their advocacy. Nor do you have to hastily change the Georgia Constitution when some lobbyist vaguely threatens a lawsuit.

Say that voters reject this ballot measure. Then, let’s ASSUME that the lawsuit you and Buzz insist “is coming” actually comes. And let’s ASSUME the judges rule against the State DOE appeals process. And we’re going to need to ASSUME that the judges not only strike down the process, but also fail to grandfather in the 15 or so current state charter schools operating with only state funding. And we need to further ASSUME that these schools will not have the ability to obtain other sources of funding until the law can be changed (from pro-charter deep-pocketed good samaritans like Mrs. Walton of Arkansas and Mrs. Fisher of California). Then, and only then, will we need to appeal to voters to approve a ballot measure like this one to “prevent all (15) state-only charters from getting closed down.”

So, it all goes back to questions 4, 5 & 6 that I posted above.

DeKalb Inside Out October 31, 2012 at 4:18 pm

Trey
Yeah … thanks for restating.

So you’re saying we should wait until state charters are considered unconstitutional and forced to close down before passing the amendment? Given the split Supreme Court decision, why don’t we make the constitution perfectly clear one way or the other. I’m guessing you don’t want the state to commission charters, but you won’t come out in say it.

You didn’t answer my question. How is it possible you believe these people will not bring a lawsuit?

Furthermore, how is it possible the Supreme Court will not deem the state board unconstitutional? The 2011 ruling leaves no room for any state agency to create charter schools, a power the justices held to be the “exclusive” constitutional domain of local boards. The state’s role in commissioning charters cannot be clarified without a constitutional amendment.

Let me know if you still need 4, 5 and 6 answered.

Trey A. October 31, 2012 at 4:38 pm

Again, in plain English:

Q. How is it possible you believe these people will not bring a lawsuit?

A. It isn’t. I don’t believe that these people will not bring a lawsuit. Neither do I think it is a given that they will OR that if they do, they’ll actually win the suit. Look at all the assumptions we have to make that I outlined above before we get to “state-only charters are closed down.”

I do want an appeals process in place that allows the state to commission charters when local boards unjustly deny applications. It’s already in place. Until it is not, we don’t need to do something as drastic as changing our state constitution.

DeKalb Inside Out November 1, 2012 at 10:43 am

Trey,
Yup. I hear ya. It isn’t metaphysical certainty that there will be a lawsuit. I also appreciate not amending the constitution with every whim.

I do, however, feel there is overwhelming evidence that a lawsuit is forthcoming by Sally Fitzgerald and the Supreme Court was crystal clear that the State Board cannot create state chartered schools without an amendment.

I wouldn’t wait until the hurricane actually strikes my house to leave. If all signs point to Sally coming my way (double meaning intended), I’m going to do something about it before she strikes.

Given the split decision, I don’t think it’s too egregious to amend the constitution to clearly define the state’s role in education.

Angela Palm October 31, 2012 at 6:05 pm

I asked Ms. FitzGerald about that reported remark. She said that her comment was related to the state funding of the schools, not the current authorization process. She believes that the state’s paying a higher a rate for students in state chartered schools than it pays for students in local schools is in violation of the federal equal protection clause. I’ll leave that to attorneys to argue as I have no idea if it is or isn’t.

DeKalb Inside Out November 1, 2012 at 10:46 am

If Ms FitzGerald is saying that state chartered schools can not receive more than QBE funding, then that is effectively killing state chartered schools.

Rick Day October 31, 2012 at 2:06 pm

My objection has not been addressed as well. Why are ‘small government conservatives’ supporting a Constitutional Amendment to a long back burnered ‘social’ issue that actually grants the state MORE authority over the people, through education structure?

One simply does not call oneself a ‘fiscal conservative’ and advocate extending the state more arbitrary authority over a basic pillar of society: education.

You are are probably nice guys otherwise, but hypocrisy runs through your blood like a virus.

Harry October 31, 2012 at 2:15 pm

But yet you seem to support lots of policies which expand the federal government to the detriment of states and communities….such as Obamacare.

kyleinatl October 31, 2012 at 3:07 pm

Bit of a threadjack don’t you think? Also I don’t think Rick has ever called himself a “fiscal conservative”.

Three Jack October 31, 2012 at 3:13 pm

If local communities truly want charter schools and the only thing preventing them from getting approval is a board that they elect, then it is on them to elect different board members…that IS the appeal process. How in the wide, wide world of all that is conservative can any conservative argue that an unelected, politically motivated state board have more power over local affairs than the locally elected board?

This absolutely moves authority away from local control to state control.

This absolutely sets up a constitutionally protected political bureaucracy that will not get smaller over time.

I still say vote NO on Amendment 1, then contact your local elected officials and demand they put forth real education reform that addresses all our problems in a comprehensive way. The money is there to get the results Georgia students deserve.

Calypso October 31, 2012 at 3:15 pm

Good points, TJ.

DeKalb Inside Out October 31, 2012 at 4:31 pm

Three Jack,
Local communities generally elect a minority of the board. The other board members are elected by the rest of the county. In many cases it is a tyranny of the majority. Take Cherokee Charter Academy for example. Most of the county doesn’t want charters there. Cherokee Charter Academy had to get commissioned by the state.

State Control? The state authorizes, but the local communities control the state chartered school. That is the ultimate local control – it is micro control – it is parent control.

As a conservative, I think you can appreciate taking the control out of the hands of the large county governments and giving it back to the local communities. As a conservative, I’m sure you can appreciate that traditional schools are now run by professional bureaucrats. Monopoly and uniformity have replaced competition and diversity. Consumers of schooling have little to say. Control by producers has replaced control by consumers.

Traditional School Reform – I can go for some of that too. What’s the plan given the people in place at traditional schools who can make changes are the ones that profit the most from the status quo.

Three Jack October 31, 2012 at 5:03 pm

DIO,

I’m very aware of what took place in Cherokee County including voters having a clear choice between school board candidates in favor/opposition of CCA (this included countywide voting for chairman, the first time that has happened). The opposition candidates won in a landslide, it wasn’t even close. That is local control.

With regard to your point about how local school boards are elected, the same holds true for local commissioners and city council members. Would you advocate for a state board of appeals to hear zoning cases if commissioners aren’t giving certain property owners what they desire?

DeKalb Inside Out November 1, 2012 at 11:06 am

Three Jack,
If I recall correctly, in Cherokee county one charter opposition candidate won in a landslide and one charter advocate won in a close race.

If the local community didn’t want the charter, then hardly anybody would go to it. It would fail and close. Obviously the local community wants it there, otherwise it would not be thriving. That is an example of the county school system not listening to or responding to the needs of the local community.

States overrule cities and the feds overrule states all the time. But that’s not the bigger picture. The “possibility” of state chartered schools is the real motivator. Local boards didn’t approve hardly any charters in the beginning. Once the state charter commission opened their doors, all of a sudden local boards approved over 100 charters while the state charter commission only approved 16.

The same goes for improving education in traditional schools in general. The people in place to make changes at traditional schools are the people who profit the most from the status quo. Why does that state have to force dual enrollment, class size maximums, millage rate ceilings, etc … when the school districts could do these things on their own.

Trey A. October 31, 2012 at 3:38 pm

“How in the wide, wide world of all that is conservative can any conservative argue that an unelected, politically motivated state board have more power over local affairs than the locally elected board?”

To answer your question, TJ, they invented a new term about 15 years ago or so. They’re called “Neo-Conservatives” and don’t misinterpret the latter word in the title to inform what they actually stand for.

The biggest head-scratcher to me in all of this is that Charlie continues to support the ballot measure. He’s usually pretty good at sniffing this stuff out and calling a pig a pig. If our editor is not completely exhausted by this already, I’d be interested in his take on the points we’ve raised in this comments thread.

Three Jack October 31, 2012 at 3:44 pm

Trey,

Instead of neo-conservative, I would label them convenient conservatives.

And I agree with you about Charlie, kind of surprising that he would support this measure, but at least he does so with a full explanation why. Of course then he contradicted himself with the post in opposition of Amendment 2 where he wrote something about no way we should trust appointed boards under the current governor.

Trey A. October 31, 2012 at 4:39 pm

Yup, that was a head-scratcher.

gcp October 31, 2012 at 4:56 pm

South Gwinnett High is just over 3 miles from Brookwood High. Brookwood students consistently score higher in most all test scores. If charters were substituted for both schools would this disparity continue and would overall scores increase? I think not. The important factors are the child’s home life, his parenting and subsequently his desire to learn.

gcp October 31, 2012 at 5:35 pm

Clarification…yes, disparity would continue and no, scores would not improve

DeKalb Wonkette October 31, 2012 at 7:16 pm

My reasons for voting YES on the amendment – flawed as the amendment may be – are personal in a several respects. First, need anything further be said of the DeKalb Co. School Board and schools?

The clincher is my experience with a co-worker who is a former GPS EDUCRAT holding one of those useless taxpayer funded “Leadership” PH.Ds.

Co-worker is incapable of critical thinking, incapable of innovation and incapable of forging creative alliances. Very good, however, at repeating slogans! Highly suspicious of others, coworker uses silent treatment as “comeuppance” for unknown and unstated slights.

If GPS is the best system in the state and my co-worker rose to the top there, God help us and all of Georgia’s students. NOTHING would be better than what we have now.

benevolus November 2, 2012 at 4:01 pm

And this is perhaps the issue in a nutshell: Those who are pursuing a (presumably) better path for themselves, vs those who are pursuing a better path for the entire system.

You probably don’t use your turn signals either.

Dave Bearse October 31, 2012 at 10:03 pm

A leading preamble and deliberately misleading ballot question warrant a no vote on the simple grounds that the Georgia General Assembly is untrustworthy.

The General Assembly calls a $2,500 charge for a one piece of paper car title that cost less than $40 to process and produce a “fee”.

John Konop October 31, 2012 at 10:08 pm

What I find fascinating is when I ran for office I warned against the abuses of the federal and state over local communities years ago ie abuses of signing authority by the president, No Child Left Behind, Math 123……… Many of you got upset, because I warned, agree or not with who is on control it will be abused………, and now Ironically some of you complain about Obama abuses with this……

This is a fairly simple issue. If you think the federal or state government should have more control them the local community with a lack of controls, vote for this! If you think like me, that no matter who is in control, if you give them unchecked power to officeholders from the state or federal government it will lead to abuses than vote no.

DeKalb Inside Out November 1, 2012 at 11:10 am

John,
Don’t forget, we need those controls on traditional school districts too. That being said, closing traditional or chartered schools for the lack of said controls isn’t prudent.

SallyForth October 31, 2012 at 10:14 pm

Calypso & TJ, I’ve been out of town a few days and am glad to see you two carrying the quest for sanity on this issue. You’ve both made several good points that strengthen the argument to vote NO on this change to our State Constitution, and action that should never be taken without clear and utter necessity. This is not such a case; this is redundancy.

There are presently two different ways under Georgia law to establish charter schools, and if someone thinks they can improve on that process they should petition their state legislators to tweak the Education section of the Georgia Code. Hold some public hearings, explain to and gather input from the citizenry, work it through the legislative process. If the reasons are valid, things will work out. If not, well……

Leapfrogging the process, using misleading language on the ballot, hoodwink voters as a means toward establishing State schools and arrogantly bypass local communities so crony contracts (greased by big PAC contributions) can be given to out-of-state corporations to run our schools and soak up our tax dollars, etc. What could possibly go wrong?

Trey A. November 1, 2012 at 12:49 am

Sally Forth, I emphatically agree with this specific line in you comment above: “Changing our State Constitution is an action that should never be taken without clear and utter necessity.” That, to me, is a core tenant of true political conservatism.

Preempting potential lawsuits that we suspect may not go our way is certainly not a necessity.

What we have here is the NAACP, most remaining Democrats in the state, a spattering of Tea Party groups and a lot of us PP junkies opposing a lousy ballot measure on conservative grounds. Sure, the messaging changes based on the constituencies, but our argument is the conservative one–there’s no denying that. On the other side, we have Buzz, Gov. Deal and a lot of well-funded outside interest groups on our left–pushing an activist cause. (I tend to like Gov. Deal when he leans left–prison reform, shifting state college funding toward a graduation-based model–but not this charter school amendment.)

Unfortunately, the misleading ballot language all but guarantees this amendment will pass. The lawsuit contesting the ballot language is probably the best shot opponents have.

And I wouldn’t even classify myself as an “opponent” to this measure, even though I will almost certainly be voting “NO” in less than a week. I simply don’t think the amendment is necessary. If it passes, as I predict it will, I hope it actually benefits students. If we get proof that it does in the future, I will be happy. I’m not moving. I’m raising my kids in Georgia. And they will go to public schools or public charter schools. If it works, I’ll be first in line to praise it. But I’m afraid it won’t. And I’m fairly convinced that at this point, it is utterly unnecessary.

Harry November 1, 2012 at 7:38 am

Let’s try it as an experiment. If it doesn’t work, politicians who can provide legislative remedies will be the heroes, whereas under the current system reform-resistant school boards and superintendents are very difficult to dislodge.

Calypso November 1, 2012 at 8:13 am

And if it doesn’t work, once amended the Constitution is very difficult to put back the way it was.

It is infinitely easier to vote out local school board members in the next election as opposed to reversing a misguided constitutional amendment and/or removing appointed members of a state commission.

No thanks, Harry. Let’s not try it as an experiment.

Harry November 1, 2012 at 8:18 am

It is infinitely easier to vote out local school board members

And even if that may be true somewhere, why should school boards be the sold determinant when they have failed to pull Georgia out of the bottom tier of educational results, and US school boards in general have failed to displace the US from the bottom in educational outcomes among the ranks of so-called developed countries?

Calypso November 1, 2012 at 6:24 am

Thanks SallyForth.

Three Jack November 1, 2012 at 9:21 am

Thanks SallyForth. You and TreyA both make very good points.

bowersville November 1, 2012 at 10:57 am

For those in support of a dual enrollment in college as well as technical schools this is only part of what we should be striving for. Don’t settle for less.

Welcome to our school. We are located on Brunswick Community College’s main campus in the C Building, 2nd Floor. We are a non-traditional high school, where students have the opportunity to graduate with both a high school diploma and an Associates in Art/Science in 4-5 years.

http://www.bcswan.net/education/school/school.php?sectionid=6

Education in Georgia should be a top priority so we can continue to compete in a global economy. To improve education, it will require that all educators be brought to the table. The University system, the technical college system, public schools, charter schools and adapting all to one goal. Education. For those in favor of competition, I can think of no better way to create competition than to create competition among students to strive for better education opportunities in high school by awarding the high achievers with options.

DeKalb Inside Out November 1, 2012 at 11:16 am

Support it … Count me in ! What’s the plan to make this happen in Georgia?

bowersville November 1, 2012 at 11:47 am

If my dream could come true. If I could go poof and make it happen you will take need to notice that my post was written as if the Amendment passed.

I wish the Governor great success and I would like the Governor, the leadership in the House and the Senate to use the passage of this Amendment as a hammer and anvil to bring all sides together without actually appointing the board. Without educators co-operating the option of the appointing the board is still there. But somewhere in the mix, I have to believe that after this fray a compromise between all parties can be reached. Those with political leverage(state funds, etc.) can hopefully accomplish education reform by bringing all to the table.

bowersville November 1, 2012 at 11:50 am

I apologize for the grammatical errors.

Calypso November 1, 2012 at 11:53 am

If only someone could invent a site feature whereby we could MODIFY and DELETE our comments…if only…

SallyForth November 1, 2012 at 1:11 pm

Heck, they don’t even need to invent the feature – just put it back into the PP website, like it was in days of yore.
I have a theory that the webmaster or some PP honcho decided that if they took that function away, it would force all of us knuckleheads to enter more posts trying to straighten out slips of our fingers – thus driving up the numbers for the blog traffic. That’s just me…..

John Konop November 1, 2012 at 11:51 am

I agree!!!!!!!!!

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